discernment

I (Ruth) haven’t played Wordle, but I do play strict-mode four-suited spider solitaire. Out of the 4561 games I’ve played, I have won 4542, replaying each game until I solve it. (The longest took me over 8 hrs to win.) Out of the 19 games I did not beat, 18 of them I accidentally hit new game instead of replay. Thankfully, the game has been updated so that it now asks if you want to ruin your current streak when you make that mistake. I have only ever quit one game deliberately. That was the first day of August 2018. In July of that year our supervisor asked Joshua and I to resign from our org because they deemed me too “unhealthy” to be in ministry. They later changed it to an offer for us to request an unpaid leave-of-absence (LOA). This would allow our accounts to remain open for continued contributions to our ministry. However, we would not be able to access those funds until we were approved to return to full-time ministry.
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Joshua and I had met with our director in November about serious issues I had observed within the ministry. He was very pastoral and caring and admitted he himself had observed all of those problems. But in January, I was ordered to counseling for imagining my past abuse onto the org, for imagining problems that weren’t there. The request violated policy, but when I reminded them of the specific policies, they informed me that they didn’t need to follow their own policies, so I refused.
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Joshua and I decided we would neither resign nor request an LOA because it was unjust. At the end of July I wrote and appealed to the boss who had told me he had seen all the problems I had been diagnosed as imagining. I appealed to him to intervene, but on the first of August, I received a reply from him. He told me that he was upholding the decision. He informed me, “my assessment is that you are not being fired, but that you truly don’t want to work within the [***] system of accountability and structure.” In other words, because we had asked them to follow their own system of accountability and structure, they decided to sever our employment, but it wasn’t really they who severed us, but we who had somehow severed ourselves. It was 13 years to the day after we had resigned our previous job to join the ministry full-time. That day, I was working on a difficult game, and I felt utterly powerless and hopeless. I quit the game, telling myself that some battles, it is simply impossible to win.
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On March 24, 2020, I wrote to our former director once more. I had planned to write to him at Christmas, but a friend asked me to wait because he had just lost two close family members. The request hurt because when the org had first made their demand which I eventually refused, I had asked them to wait two months because I was dealing with a serious family crisis. They had refused that request and insisted I must leave my family for a week in the midst of the crisis to immediately meet their demand. Yet I honored my friend’s request, waiting three months to send my draft.
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I wrote, “The question I struggled with this Christmas was how you could sign off on something you had acknowledged to me was untrue. I came to you and explained the problems I had seen within [***]. You told me that you had seen those problems yourself. You knew that I was speaking truth. Then [my supervisor] told me that those very same words were a lie. This is a direct quote from [him]: ‘There is no problem. You need to stop saying there is a problem.’ He then proceeded to diagnose me or label me or whatever word you want to call it, with imagining my past abuse onto [***]. All of the problems I had seen and you had acknowledged were, in [his] assessment, projections from my past onto my present within [***]. [He and his assistant] then assigned me to a counselor they had spoken to about my situation and who said he could get my Dad out of my head so I could see the present accurately.
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“Is it any wonder I refused? … .”  I asked him whether he had known when he upheld the decision to sever our employment that at the heart of our severance was that I had been diagnosed with imagining the very problems he had admitted to my husband and I that he had seen.
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He replied the following day,
“I did and continue to agree with [your former supervisor’s] and the Field Team’s decision” — (it is worh noting that a number of the field team had told us privately that they disagreed with the decision) —
“I did and continue to agree with [his] diagnosis”.
He also wrote,
“At that time, I would have only cleared you to continue on with [***] in a Leave of Absence to take the extended time needed to be healthy (which was a concession), but there is no way I would have cleared your family as healthy for return to the field.”
In other words, at the time they offered us the LOA, they had already decided we would never be permitted to return to the field. Once that decision was officially announced, any funds which our supporters had donated to our ministry during the LOA would then be divided between our former field team and the ministry as a whole. The false offer of an LOA with a potential return to ministry within the org would not have benefited us in any way. It would not have helped us have “the extended time needed to be healthy.” We wouldn’t be paid. None of the funds sent to [***] by our support partners for our support would be accessible to us. We wouldn’t have insurance. We would have a false hope which would then fail us. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” However, the offer would have benefited the organization if even a single person donated to our accounts during that time, which was very likely. Who would have donated? The family, friends, and supporters who were closest to us. They would have donated specifically to benefit our ministry because of their connection to us, but the org had already decided that money would never be used for that purpose.
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Multiple people condemned us for not seeking the LOA, but I am so glad I recognized that some battles should be left unfought. Some battles are traps. I did decide not to follow the counsel of multiple people who advised us to request the LOA. I trusted the counsel of others who told me that something was not right, and I trusted my own discernment that the offer was not in good faith. I urged Joshua to refuse the offer. I discerned correctly. Many people assume that the discernment of abuse victims is twisted by abuse, but I would assert that it is the discernment of those who ignore abuse which is twisted by their refusal to see what is actually happening.
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I am proud of myself. I am proud of my ability to solve hard games and to overcome abuse. I like that I am persistent in untangling hard puzzles and in fighting for truth and justice. I am glad I have learned to trust my discernment, to seek and to listen to counsel, and then to make a decision.
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It’s Giving Tuesday

This Giving Tuesday we’re going to do something that doesn’t come easy to us:  ask for your partnership.

First we thank our financial support partners for their generosity and our prayer partners for their prayers.  Without them, we couldn’t do what we do.  But we’re currently operating on a shoestring, as they say, and it’s not sustainable.

Please give — join us as regular monthly partners or give a one-time contribution.

The button below links to our giving page at MissionStream.  While you think about it, read our November newsletter.


Reading the Bible with Maasai Christians

Back in August, I (Joshua) posted a more academic essay sharing some of the behind-the-scenes linguistic and cross-cultural research that is part of missionary life — Enkiteng Hermeneutics:  Reading the Bible with Maasai Christians.  Further development of that resulted in two different publications.  I’d be pleased if you took a look:

  • “An Enkiteng Hermeneutics—Reading (and Hearing!) the Bible with Maasai Christians:  A review essay and proposal.” Global Missiology 18, no. 4 (October 2021):  2–16.
    read as pdf here
    read as html here 
  • “A Four-in-One Book Review:  A Four-in-One Book Review:  On the Bible and Intercultural Hermeneutics among the Maasai.”  International Review of Mission 110, no. 2 (November 2021):  358–363.
    read as pdf here

Some of my other research had also been published earlier this year.  Take a look, tolle lege (“take and read”):

  • “My God is enkAi:  a reflection of vernacular theology.”  Journal of Language, Culture, and Religion 2, vol. 1 (2021):  1–20.
    a pdf of the entire issue is available here
  • “Conversion or Proselytization?  Being Maasai, Becoming Christian.” Global Missiology 18, vol. 2 (April 2021):  11 pages.
    read as pdf here
    read as html here

These samples of our mission research aren’t as glamorous as sharing pictures of baptisms or of new church building dedications — but without this sort of foundational work, the glamor too often tends be temporary and shorn of lasting glory.

Send Me

Last month (in February), I (Joshua) was able to spend a week in Oletukat, teaching my History of Christian Mission course at a missionary training school founded and run by our Maasai friend and colleague, James ole Sinkua.  Last year, we all visited Oletukat as a family as Ruth and I had a planning and curriculum development meeting with James (for more, see our November newsletter).

MIEA Maasai choir

As usual, when I teach I have just as much of a learning opportunity as my students.  Besides learning new Maa vocabulary, my students taught me this wonderful song, Irriwayioki ! (or “Send me!”). In the Maa Bible, in Isaiah 6:8, the prophet answers God’s call:  “Irriwayioki!  Send me!”  While this hymn has innumerable verses, I learned five of them plus the chorus.

The first verse is especially powerful:  Send me to our Maasai people, Send me even to the Agĩkũyũ … .  The first phrase is a call to evangelize and disciple one’s neighbors, kinfolk, and fellow countrymen.  But the second phrase asks God to send the singer to the Kikuyu!  This is significant because traditionally the Kikuyu and the Maasai are tribal rivals.

(Properly speaking, Agĩkũyũ is the name of the people and Gĩkũyũ is the name of the language.  In Swahili, Kikuyu is the name of the Gĩkũyũ language spoken by the Agĩkũyũ.  From this Swahili usage, “Kikuyu” is commonly used in English to refer to the Gĩkũyũ language and “the Kikuyu” is used to refer to the Agĩkũyũ people.)

While the two tribes sometimes intermarry, often the Maasai and the Agĩkũyũ are about as affectionate toward each other as are supporters of rival political factions in America.  This song is a radical invitation, asking God to send us that we might join God in God’s mission in the world — not only to our friends but also even to our enemies.

Give it a listen, and scroll down for the lyrics and translation:

To those of you who saw our “Sing or Dance?” post from last month (20 February), accept my apologies for only having an audio file instead of a video file.  

This recording has six verses.  Here is the Maa translation, with English translation, of five of the verses plus the chorus.  (When my students sang it for me to record, they added what is the fifth verse here, and for the life of me there are a couple of words that I just can’t hear.  I didn’t have a chance to ask them to transcribe that verse for me.  When I figure out that verse, I’ll edit this post.)

chorus
Irriwayioki, irriwayioki!
Irriwayioki, Enkai ai!
Olchampa lino mashomo Yesu
Naa kalo, irriwayioki!

Send me, send me!
Send me, my God!
So that I may go to your field, Jesus,
and I will go, send me!

(repeat chorus)

verse 1
Irriwayioki ilmaasai lang,
Irriwayioki ata ikokoyok,
Olchampa lino mashomo Yesu
Naa kalo, irriwayioki!

Send me our own Maasai people,
Send me even to the Kikuyu,
So that I may go to your field, Jesus,
and I will go, send me!

(repeat chorus)

verse 2
Irriwayioki Tanzania,
Irriwayioki ata Uganda,
Olchampa lino mashomo Yesu
Naa kalo, irriwayioki!

Send me Tanzania,
Send me even to Uganda,
So that I may go to your field, Jesus,
and I will go, send me!

(repeat chorus)

verse 3
Irriwayioki Ingirisa,
Irriwayioki Iltalia,
Olchampa lino mashomo Yesu
Naa kalo, irriwayioki!

Send me to the English,
Send me to the Italians,
So that I may go to your field, Jesus,
and I will go, send me!

(repeat chorus)

verse 4
Irriwayioki ata Asia,
Irriwayioki o Australia,
Olchampa lino mashomo Yesu
Naa kalo, irriwayioki!

Send me even to Asia,
Send me also to Australia,
So that I may go to your field, Jesus,
and I will go, send me!

(repeat chorus)

verse 5

Irriwayioki ???,
Irriwayioki ???,
Olchampa lino mashomo Yesu
Naa kalo, irriwayioki!

Send me ???,
Send me ???,
So that I may go to your field, Jesus,
and I will go, send me!

(repeat chorus)

verse 6

Irriwayioki iltamoyia,
Irriwayioki ilaing’okok,
Olchampa lino mashomo Yesu
Naa kalo, irriwayioki!

Send me to the sick,
Send me to the sinners,
So that I may go to your field, Jesus,
and I will go, send me!

(repeat chorus)

chorus with reprise
Irriwayioki, irriwayioki!
Irriwayioki, Enkai ai!
Olchampa lino mashomo Yesu
Naa kalo, irriwayioki!

Naa kalo, irriwayioki!
………. Naa kalo, irriwayioki!
(Papaai lai) Naa kalo, irriwayioki! ….. (O my Father)
………. Naa kalo, irriwayioki!
Olchampa lino, irriwayioki!
……… Naa kalo, irriwayioki!
Naa kalo, irriwayioki!
………. Naa kalo, irriwayioki!

(gradually slowing … )
Irriwayioki, irriwayioki!
Irriwayioki, Enkai ai!
Olchampa lino mashomo Yesu
Naa kalo, irriwayioki!

Send me, send me!
Send me, my God!
So that I may go to your field, Jesus,
and I will go, send me!

Karibuni

30 June 2019

Karibuni! “Welcome back!”

We arrived back in Kenya at the end of April and began to get settled the beginning of May.  We’ve overcome some unexpected challenges in re-acquiring our vehicle (which we’ve now paid for twice) and applying for new work permits.  We’ve dived into to language learning (as we’re needing to add Swahili to our Maa and Samburu).  We’ve been delighted to host guests — some of the Hausers, our good friends who serve as missionaries in Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire, and the Sapps, representing our support partner Crossroads Christian Church.  We’ve also hosted a number of our Maasai friends and co-workers, working together on curriculum development and planning meetings for CCBTI and DTI. 

More than anything else, we’ve been struck by the warmth, or even intensity, of the homecoming welcome that has been extended to us these first two months of our fourth term.  To read more (and for pictures), read our June newsletter(Note that the pdf is optimized for viewing online; if you would like a higher resolution copy for printing, just ask!)

We also posted a small photo album from last month.  If you missed it, check out our May 2019 photos.

 

Francis Yenko and Joshua work on editing Joshua’s next Maa language book.

first graduation! (Ewaso Ng’iro)

On 30 November we reported the beginning of our CCBTI graduation season in Maasai Land, as the first cohort of pastors from Kajiado County celebrated completion of the CCBTI program. This past weekend saw the graduations of the smaller cohort from Narok County at CCC’s training center in Ewaso Ng’iro, on 8 December.

Join us in celebrating with Peter Otuma Nanteya, Walton Tumate Nkowua, Peter Lerionka Pion, Wilson Ntinana Kuyoni, Maina ole Salenoi, Peter Talata Parkesui, and their congregations!  Ntinga Sam Tome (on the right in the first picture) attended both graduations.